The Denver Broncos have had a revolving door at the nose tackle position over the past few seasons, plugging in a handful of veterans to help them along the way. Many fans across Broncos Country have been hoping that the team would draft a long-term prospect at the position to solidify their interior of their defense, but much to their chagrin that hasn’t transpired. Last offseason, the Broncos opted to head down the same veteran paved road by signing long-time Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko to a two-year contract to be their starter at nose tackle.
Name: Domata Peko Sr.
Position: Nose Tackle
Experience: 13th season
College: Michigan State
Widely regarded as a poor signing by analysts and outlets due to declining play over the past few years with the Bengals, Peko was revitalized with a change of role and scenery and excelled as the Broncos’ big man in the middle in 2017. It’s hard to imagine Denver’s magnificent turnaround in respect to run defense without his presence on the interior of the defensive line. Without question, his presence on and off the field has been a tremendous asset for the franchise.
In his twelfth season in the league, Peko was able to start and play in fourteen games and was an integral part of the Broncos’ revamped rush defense. As a unit, the Broncos’ defense ranked fifth in rushing defense, allowing only 89.4 yards per game. In 2016, Denver had one of the worst defenses against the run in the league, giving up over 130 yards per game on the ground. He was active for 460 snaps (roughly 47 percent) last season — a number that would have been significantly higher had he not missed two games.
He received a quality grade from Pro Football Focus and his stout play defending the run earned him the honor of being a Pro Bowl alternate. For the year he had 38 tackles, 6.5 of them for loss, as well as one quarterback sack. It’s safe to say that the Broncos got a bargain with the signing of Peko, who outperformed many other players at his position and provided the team with a valued and respected leadership presence on and off the field.
There isn’t much bad to say about him based off a strong 2017 campaign, but it’s a well-known that he doesn’t offer much in terms of a pass rush. However, it’s not necessarily something that’s required of him given his role at nose tackle nor a significant concern to be worried about. Overall, if the Broncos can get a repeat performance out of him in the final year of his contract, fans should be appreciative of that.
“I’m really looking forward to the season and just keeping our run-game really stout. We made some strides stopping the run last year. A big props to all of my teammates, all of our d-linemen. We play the run really stingy. We try to be really tough in the trenches. That is what I love to do. I like to eat up running backs, take up double teams and just have fun out there. It’s so much fun in the trenches for me.” — Domata Peko Sr. during OTAs
Entering his thirteenth season in the National Football League, Peko is undoubtedly the incumbent starter for the Broncos for the 2018 season and a valued leader on the defensive side of the ball. Look for him to be spelled by veteran Zach Kerr when he needs a breather, but be confident in knowing the time-tested veteran will make a continued impact against the run in the heart of the team’s defense.